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Study Visit to the Netherlands for Iraqi Prison Management

Project facts

  • Funder: Ministry of Justice, Custodial Institutions Agency
  • Partner(s): EU JUSTLEX, Penitentiary Institution of Arnhem
  • Project period: 2010 -2011
  • For information mail to:

Iraqi law provides a strong framework for the respect for human rights, but the situation is very different in practise. One issue of concern is the treatment of prisoners, which is often inhumane. The Iraqi Ministry of Justice has only been responsible for the detention and prison facilities since the fall of the regime of Saddam Hussein and it has found since then that prison managers often lack sufficient education to manage prisons and deal with the many issues that can arise there.

This project was designed to contribute to the ongoing efforts to professionalise the Iraqi prison staff and to bring the penitentiary system in Iraq more in line with international human rights standards. It involved sharing Dutch experience with Iraqi prison managers and stimulating cooperation on prison management and rehabilitation policies. The central part of the project was a three week training visit of Iraqi prison managers in the Netherlands, at the Penitentiary Institution in Arnhem. By increasing the knowledge of the Iraqi prison management on Dutch prison programmes, the project provided them with new ideas on and inspiration for change.

As a result of the project, the nine Iraqi prison managers have gained a better insight into the Dutch prison system and can use this insight to strengthen the penitentiary system in Iraq in line with international human rights standards. All participants produced an action-plan to further develop and implement relevant aspects of the Dutch model in the Iraqi prison system. The project team visited Northern Iraq approximately a year after the study visit, in early December 2011. It could see that the content of the training had clearly found its way into Iraqi practice. The project team spoke again with some of the participants of the study visit to the Netherlands, and all of them said that their mentality has changed.